Bad Bunny Bites Back – Brighton Writer's Blog. Brighton Music & Musings

I know when to go out, I know when to stay in, get things done…

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Written by Brighton Bad Bunny

April 27, 2013 at 11:14 am

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So yeah, welcome.

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Written by Brighton Bad Bunny

April 23, 2013 at 6:47 pm

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Getting intimate with Call Me Jolene and yourgardenday

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Last Wednesday a large crowd enjoyed an ‘intimate soiree’ with two exciting Brighton bands, Call Me Jolene and yourgardenday. The venue was the Jive Monkey, which with its small rooms and dark wood decor was the perfect location to get up close and cosy with these two sumptuous acts.

According to one of my companions, the venue has gone through several incarnations in its time, but currently it feels just the right mix of snug and underground – reminiscent of a speakeasy from days of yore. Those of us who got there early enough were able to grab a table, but it was pleasing to see that large numbers were also standing at the back of the room by the time the main act, Call Me Jolene, took to the stage.

Anyone who did turn up late missed the sweet sound of the support act, yourgardenday, unveiling their new line-up. Singer-songwriter and piano maestro Robin Coward has been joined by Peter Rowley on drums. While there wasn’t much in the shape of new material for those who have heard Robin’s solo sets in the past 12 months, the addition of a drummer instantly gives all the songs a whole new dimension.

yourgardenday songs are hypnotic and stirring numbers, and Peter’s drumming accentuates this and complements Robin’s skilful piano and songwriting. This was evident from the off, with their first song the exceptionally catchy Something In The Music. Picture Every Point, their second song, was similarly earwormesque, while their penultimate song, Lover, Do You Mind?, with its rolling, sea-like rhythm, sounds 100 times better with drums.

One song did feature what felt like a slightly over-long display of piano/drums, to the point one almost expected an usher to appear on stage bearing an ‘Intermission’ card, but in general this was a really solid performance and hopefully an indicator of great things to come for the band. The final song, a new piece called Spring Is Springing, was typically lovely and seemed to be a crowd pleaser – Peter in particular coping admirably after first being repeatedly attacked by the Call Me Jolene bass trying to get in on the action, then suffering a disintegrating drum. This was a promising relaunch for yourgardenday – more, please.

By the time Call Me Jolene took to the stage, the venue was so packed that those of us at the front had to shuffle our tables forwards. We were a little more intimate with the band than we had perhaps intended! But it was great to see a decent number of people braving the Arctic weather for the gig.

Call Me Jolene again produce well-crafted and sensual songs, with Sophie Pointer’s sweet and soulful vocals complemented by guitar, bass and (hastily mended) drums. Touched with regret, sadness and longing, the likes of He Knows My Name had the crowd spellbound, while my personal favourite, the every-lovely Last Song, still brings a tear to my eye.

Blakers Park is a dulcet, heartwrenching piece that has been adopted as the theme song of said park, while Red, Blond and Blue is a heartfelt response to the Dolly Parton classic from which the band take their name, Jolene.

At times the audience did have to be prompted that they could applaud, but I think that was more because everyone was slightly under the Call Me Jolene spell and mesmerised by the moment.

The gig was certainly value for money, with 10 songs from the headline act, finishing with the sumptuous and seductive O Lover. Hopefully, we will hear more from Call Me Jolene in the very near future.

The next yourgardenday gig is on 20th May. For details, visit their Facebook page.

You can find details of the next Call Me Jolene shows on their Facebook page, too.

Written by Brighton Bad Bunny

April 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm

The secrets of splendid songwriting – a Call Me Jolene/yourgardenday preview

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Music, as I am constantly telling frankly anyone within earshot, is my love, my life. So when I discovered that not one but two of my all time favourite bands would be playing at the Jive Monkey, I was delighted. I named both Call Me Jolene and yourgardenday as top acts to watch in 2012, and from what I’ve heard to date I stand by that statement.

Call Me Jolene are a four-piece providing hypnotic, sumptuous songs in gigs where the audience feels a real connection with the band, while the lyrically delicious and melodically marvellous yourgardenday have doubled in size (to two) in recent months. I caught up with Sophie from Call Me Jolene and Robin from yourgardenday before the gig to find out what we could expect from the two bands. . .

Call Me Jolene

The hauntingly beautiful Call Me Jolene.

Call Me Jolene has been in existence for more than three years, formed by singer-songwriter Sophie Pointer with two friends, Tommy and Nathan, at music college. Bassist Martin completed the line-up soon after. However, family commitments meant Tommy and Nathan had to leave, while Martin and Sophie kept writing songs. Last summer the band welcomed two new members, drummer Travis and guitarist Chris, and they played their first comeback gig last year.

“Travis and Chris are delightful chaps,” says Sophie. “And the songs have started moving in some delicious new directions. The guitar has definitely got louder.”

The Jive Monkey is an intimate venue ideal for Call Me Jolene’s sumptuous sets. “Small venues are so suited to the mood of our songs,” Sophie explains. “We want the audience to hear every word and breath.”

What I love about Call Me Jolene most is their well-crafted songs and intelligent lyrics, so I took the chance to ask Sophie about the song writing process.

“We genuinely slave over every detail of every song,” she says. “As a lyricist I want to make a decision over every syllable, not leave anything to chance or laziness. I can’t bear songwriting that is lazy. What’s the point?”

What is the point, indeed? There’s certainly nothing lazy about the songwriting of support band yourgardenday, whom Sophie is full of praise for.

As a lyricist, I want to make a decision over every syllable. I can’t bear songwriting that is lazy. What’s the point?”

yourgardenday songs are positive, melodic and clever – and in most cases, instant earworms that slip in through your ears so delicate and polite, and, like a musical version of the Occupy protestors, absolutely refuse to budge.

Things have been a little quiet on the yourgardenday front of late, but as musical mastermind Robin explains, it was more a reboot than a retreat.

“For the last couple of years since playing Glastonbury 2010 as a full band, yourgardenday has been solo again, other commitments pulling the lovely line-up their separate ways, and it was time to just play on my own until ready to build things up again,” Robin shares. “Then as the gig commitments ran out at the end of 2011, yourgardenday decided to hibernate. Sometimes things need to power down to start functioning properly again.”


Hypnotic and sublime, the piano-based songs of yourgardenday have taken on a whole new dimension with the addition of drums.

However, now Robin has added a drummer in the shape of Peter Rowley, whom he met at his Sidewinder Open Mic night, to add a new dimension to live shows. Peter will drum while Robin sings and plays piano.

“It is good to be playing with others again – it all sounds fresh and the songs have come together quite naturally,” says Robin. He’s been working on new material, too: “My newest song ‘Spring is Springing’ is sounding rather special. I guess it fits well with the fact that this is a new season for yourgardenday. People will be surprised at how full things sound with just two.”

Like Sophie, Robin finds the songwriting process is usually a long one. “It can often be a long time from the initial inspiration to the time [a song is] complete.

“Generally a small lyrical or melodic phrase will come to me and sometimes it’ll weave its way into a verse or chorus. But usually it’ll stay small and in the back of my mind for a while until something else hooks on to it. And then another part, and then another. I feel like they’re already written, but I have to pull the pieces together out of my rather bustling brain.”

Robin will soon be working with a manager and putting together material for a debut yourgardenday album.

I feel like they’re already written, but I have to pull the pieces together out of my rather bustling brain”

What’s delightful about these two bands is they are full of praise for each other. “I’d like to thank the delightful Call Me Jolene for the support opportunity,” says Robin, while Sophie reveals her love of yourgardenday: “The handsome and talented Robin is providing acoustic support. . . damn, that boy can sing,” she says. I will have to dust off my very best frock to follow that, as will the rest of the band. Our drummer actually got the job by telling me how good he looked in a dress. . .”

That may make for an interesting gig indeed. Call Me Jolene and yourgardenday play An Intimate Soiree at The Jive Monkey on April 25th. Please click on the link for tickets.

Written by Brighton Bad Bunny

April 21, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Call Me Jolene at The Green Door Store

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Call Me Jolene Green Door Store

Call Me Jolene at The Green Door Store, Brighton.

Last Sunday my friends and I enjoyed a set by one of my favourite Brighton bands, Call Me Jolene, part of an eclectic line-up of acts playing at The Green Door Store.

Following an afternoon watching The Dark Crystal, it was an appropriately magical evening. We arrived just in time to catch the preceding band, Das Fenster, an edgy little collective fronted by German singer Eva Katharina and recommended to us by Call Me Jolene’s Martin Rossiter. Well worth a listen and if I could recommend just one of their songs it would be Devil Song.

Call Me Jolene began with their emotion-filled Last Song, a sad and beautiful little number that singer Sophie Pointer delivers in haunting fashion, ably backed up by music that moves your heart. The audience was instantly captivated, and remained so for the rest of the Call Me Jolene set.

Call Me Jolene Sophie

Sophie delivers haunting vocals.

The musical heritage of these tracks is clear. They are expertly put together and delivered in a style that captures you and pulls you in. Among other highlights were Red, Blonde and Blue – the first Call Me Jolene song I ever heard, and was taken by straight away – and their famous/infamous 007 song, written for a James Bond film. If it were ever to become the theme tune to a 007 adventure, I might even manage to sit through a whole Bond movie.

I named Call Me Jolene as ‘one to watch’ in my musical review of 2011 and I stand by that. Songs that make you sway, and sing, and most importantly think – be sure to catch them live yourself at the nearest opportunity, and in the meantime get to know and love some of their songs yourself on their Soundcloud page.

Written by Brighton Bad Bunny

February 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Live Music Review: Fractured Toast at The Quadrant, 2nd February 2012

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Fractured Toast February 2012

Ric Blow, Graham Jones and Joshua Renton at Fractured Toast.

On a cold evening, there’s nothing like some warm Toast to beat the winter chills. As ever with an Overhead Wires‘ Fractured Toast event, those who had braved the icy winds were treated to some heartwarming songs and the stories behind them in the snug upstairs room of the Quadrant.

Fractured Toast, for the uninitiated, is a unique songwriters’ circle where you get to hear the stories behind the songs of some of Brighton’s hottest songwriting talent. February’s event was also a first for Fractured Toast with three band frontmen taking to the chair – Graham Jones from The Lanes, Joshua Renton from Clockworks and Ric Blow from Pocket Drummers.

Launching the night was a superb support act, Verity Sessions. Unfazed by a minor alcoholic miss-function that saw her covering herself and her guitar in red wine just before getting on stage, Verity provided a sterling set of covers and originals.

Verity Sessions

Verity Sessions opened the night.

This is a lady with an exceptionally powerful voice and a good vocal range, both shown off in her opening song, Reignite. Her own songs are often deeply soulful and packed with raw sentiment, while her covers are always unique and very enjoyable, putting her own slant on a range of popular songs. Her cover of Touch Me was a raw, earthy and very original version.

After a short break it was time for the main acts to take to the stage, Ric and Graham sharing a guitar due to problems with one of their instruments.

In what sometimes feels like a surreal version of Blind Date, where we’ll be asked to take our favourite musician home at the end of the evening, host Rich Ward puts a series of questions to the singers so that we learn something about them as well as their songs.

Ric Blow, we learned, came from Lincoln and has been a Brightonian for 10 years. His cure for a hangover is the tried and tested fry-up and coffee method. Ric began with a recent song called Let’s Get This Party Ended, which featured clever lyrics and rhymes and like Verity a wide vocal range. In places he reminded me of my favourite 90s band, Gene.

I was interested in seeing Graham Jones playing acoustically, as I have seen his band The Lanes several times rocking out on a Friday night at the Live Music Zooberon. How would this passion translate, exactly, into a solo acoustic set? The answer is, just as you would expect – the most passionate, and loudest performance I’ve seen at Fractured Toast. Graham told us a bit about The Lanes, who started out as a covers band and have been going for 10 years, and performed We Own The Night, a song named after the film of the same name.

Third up was Joshua Renton from Clockworks, one of my favourite bands. Joshua, who was clearly in the chilly chair as he kept wrapping himself up during the night, has been a Brightonian most of his life, and he performed the keynote song from Clockworks’ recent record.

Fractured Toast Ric Blow

Ric Blow had some interesting and quirky themes to his songs.

The second question for our musical trio was when and why they first started playing guitar, and as it turned out, the three boys were quite late starters. Ric was surrounded by music from a young age as his father used to sing and play to him as a child. But he began writing songs at the keyboard, and was 16 when he wrote his first song (after learning three chords and before teaching himself any covers). The singers are also asked to perform one of their early songs, and Ric went for Eyeball Pinball, a piece about a friend who loved a girl but never told her – fairly typical early songwriting fodder.

Graham was 18 when he first picked up a guitar, although he was a prolific rhymer beforehand. He was inspired by the likes of Oasis to learn guitar, and in his early song, Back To School, you can detect the Gallagher influence.

Joshua was also 16 when he started to play, apparently acquiring his guitar from Selfridges. He was inspired by watching Travis performing at Glastonbury, so he got his guitar and a chord book and taught himself Driftwood. At Fractured Toast he performed one of the first songs written for his band’s first record.

The next subject was songwriting, and whether it’s a hard or easy process. Ric, who has a wonderful way with words, described songs as being “like skeletons” with the bare bone chords that you then have to flesh out. The singers were asked to sing something written about a bizarre subject or inspired by bizarre circumstances, and keeping up the horror theme Ric chose Hammer Horror movies, and how overtly sexual they were for their time. His song, Transylvanian Girlfriend, about a man with a vampire fetish, name-checked Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and was simultaneously creepy and funny.

Fractured Toast Graham Jones

Graham Jones from The Lanes was loud and proud.

Graham says he writes in short bursts as he gets easily distracted. His song, The Maze, came about during The Lanes’ most surreal gig, playing in Crawley when the premises was stormed by police on a drugs bust. Ever the professionals, the band played on, watching a strange form of cops ‘n’ robbers as the police chased their prey through the crowd.

Joshua has given up spending hours labouring over songs because he found that the ones that worked best were those that came to him quickly. Most of his songs, he says, are born out of banality. His third song, Lost My Way, was inspired by a trip to a monastery and the themes of the last station of the cross and the road to Calvary.

Next up was the influences and covers round. Ric’s top three influences (at least for the night) were John Martyn, Richard Thompson and Luke Doucet , and it was a modern country song from Doucet that he chose to cover. Graham’s top three were guitary heroes Johnny Marr, Jimmy Page and John Squire. However, he chose not to cover any of their songs and (because he struggles remembering others’ lyrics) asked the audience to name that tune with one note. They voted for Hard Day’s Night, and Graham was joined by Joshua, Ric and most of the audience.

Joshua also decided not to sing something from his top three influences – Chris Martin, Ryan Addams and John Mayer. He also added that he genuinely loves country and pop, Britney Spears, Rihanna and Lady Gaga, and that he listened to hip-hop while growing up. Perhaps that’s why his chosen cover was of Kanye West’s Heartless. Now, I’d included Joshua Renton in a rare breed of musicians: with many, while you see them playing their heart out, there are a select few for whom their instruments, and more than that their music, seems not something separate but an actual part of them, and Joshua is one of these musicians. You can hear this even in cover songs and this was a very original version, soft and lovely to start with and growing in strength and passion throughout.

Fractured Toast Joshua Renton

Joshua Renton, an honest and talented songwriter.

Nothing goes better with toast than cheese, and so it was on to the subject of love, or at least a song inspired by it. Ric made the very good point that, if you do write a love song, you don’t necessarily want to play it to the world, so instead he creates a character and puts himself in a situation and writes about that. His song, Dear Bracken, was about a prisoner of war in 1945 being forced to walk in the opposite direction from Allied troops, and his excellent lyrics built a very clear image in your mind.

Graham also doesn’t write about love, because, he says, his band will laugh at him. If he does broach the subject it’s with a bitter and twisted slant, borne out by the title – It’s Over. Again, you could hear a strong Oasis influence in this piece.

Joshua admitted he is introverted, and sings what he can’t say. A brilliantly honest musician, he performed a song written for someone he loves. Up On The Ledge was emotional, raw and mind-blowing.

They finished with their final song for a gig, and again Ric chose a quirky subject, a man who at the age of 68 built a raft and sailed across the Pacific on his own. Graham went for Killer Within, a dark and furious song, while Joshua opted for Gone By Morning, country and upbeat and apparently a true story. You can see the video for Gone By Morning on YouTube.

Fractured Toast Last Song

Graham Performs his final song of the night.

Sidewinder Open Mic Night

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Sidle up to The Sidewinder on St James’s Street on a typical Tuesday evening and you’ll be treated to an eclectic mix of music from a diverse selection of musicians.

Tuesday night is Open Mic Night, which means the floor of the cozy pub is thrown open to anyone with a desire to perform. Hosted by Robin Coward, who’s been organising music events for several years across Brighton, the nights are always packed with acts keen to show off their skills.

Last Tuesday, the 24th of January, was no exception and the assembled crowd was treated to a wide range of acts. Robin kicks off the nights with a mixture of something familiar and some of his own work before handing over to the musicians who have turned out to perform.

And what a wide mix they are. We began the night with Ungrateful Dave, a guitarist and singer with a comic bent and a penchant for political satire. He was followed by Shane, a regular at The Sidewinder, who always performs his own, skilfully crafted and emotive songs.

Sidewinder Open Mic Will

Will, a regular at Sidewinder Open Mic, delights the crowd.

Will is another regular fixture at Sidey open mic nights, a Dylan and Cohen enthusiast who spiced up his set this week with the addition of a harmonica to his guitar based set. Then there was Jed, a frequent  watcher and sometime performer, who gave us a cover and an original on his guitar.

Jonathan is another frequent performer who gives some sterling Hank Marvinesque guitar, complete with his box of tricks at his feet. We then welcomed Danny, who performed a sweet soft rock-folk set on harmonica and guitar, and the passionate David (definitely not Dave).

Another Sidewinder and indeed Brighton open mic stalwart, Tony, proved that age is no limitation and entertained with several short comic songs on the piano, before Robin rounded off the night with a bit of Radiohead.

Every Sidewinder Open Mic is guaranteed to surprise and delight, with something to suit all musical tastes. Anyone is welcome, and encouraged to perform, with a guitar and keyboard provided, and professional sound engineering keeping everything sounding just right. The pub serves a good, affordable selection of food until late, and a wide range of wines and beers to keep those vocal chords lubricated.

So if you’re looking for a place to perform, or you just want to hear what Brighton’s musicians have to offer, drop into The Sidewinder from 8pm any Tuesday and say hello to Robin.

Written by Brighton Bad Bunny

January 30, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Live Music Review: Fractured Toast 5th January

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There’s nothing to beat the January blues like a good night of music, and at January’s Fractured Toast that’s exactly what we got. Run by Overhead Wires, Fractured Toast is a songwriters’ circle where you get to hear the stories behind the performers’ songs.

The support act for the evening was the folk-sounding and harmonious Anna Rose, with Annie and Emily on backing vocals. There were a few notable points about Anna’s songs, first as she mentioned herself that many of them seem to feature the word ‘worry’ and secondly that she seems to have a penchant for giving her songs titles already made famous by other artists. Thankfully, her first song, Cold Shoulder, was far sweeter than the song of the same name by Adele, packed like most of Anna’s songs with some fine-sounding harmonies.

Her second song, On and On, was not a Longpigs cover but was full of the same sad, lonesome sentiment. This was followed by one of her ‘worry’ songs, Don’t Worry My Friend, which accented Anna’s strong skills as a vocalist, ably supported by her backing singers. Probably my favourite song of the set was After, Therefore, Because, which is the kind of catchy, romantic song that would provide the backing track to a cult American TV series.

Shine was an emotional and heartfelt song (and thankfully not a jot like Take That!), before she finished with a more optimistic and upbeat number called These Floors of Mine. Overall very enjoyable and talented act.

The three songwriters in the circle (or, technically, in a line) were Jake McKay from The Long Goodbye, Bob Duffield who is better known as Rough Citizen, and Matt Bonner – an eclectic mix of acts.

First the singers were asked to tell us a bit about themselves, in a Blind Date stylee with Rich from Overhead Wires playing Cilla. Jake hails from Derbyshire but has been in Brighton for several years and chose to begin with a simple love song, A Thousand Ships, for which he told us he got the riff first and found it pretty to play. Singer number two, Bob, told us he was from Lewisham and played a song called The Hate Pattern, a song about people being horrible to each other, which was a surprisingly pleasant song considering the topic. Matt, meanwhile, is Brighton born and bred and sang one of his classic songs, The Same, which is full of real passion you can see written all over his face when he performs.

Next up Rich asked the singers to reveal their musical history, when and why they started playing, and to perform one of their early songs. Jake was 8 when he began playing, after watching classic rock videos such as Queen and Thin Lizzy, as well as listening to the rather more poppy Michael Jackson. Influenced like many singers by Dylan, he chose to sing a 12-year-old song called Reckless that was sad and reflective.

Bob had classical guitar lessons as a child and, like many children, got bored. However, a few years later he discovered rock and started playing again, composing his first song at the age of 14. He performed a song called The Lone Gunman, which, he said, was “about being an arsehole.”

Matt was a young teenager when he first started playing, teaching himself and getting interested in the guitar because his friends were into it. He achieved a first for Fractured Toast by actually singing the first ever song he wrote, No Special Face, which he claimed was quite depressing and which had a quite typical teenaged angsty feel to it.

Love is the staple of many songs, and of Fractured Toast’s most awkward questions. Jake, who said most of his songs were about love, performed the sad and lovely Sing Your Sorrows, with deeper vocals than some of his other songs, based on a relationship that didn’t work out.

Bob revealed that he struggled with the topic of love as a songwriter, sounding like Coldplay (a fate worse than death) if he tried. So he took a slightly different approach to the question and went with the theme of family, singing Fluorescent, a reflective song full of family strength and featuring some skilful chord changes.

Matt went for a simpler theme – a girl he fancies – and performed You and Me.

Next up the songwriters were asked about writer’s block – Rich asked them to perform either a song that took a long time to write, or one that came very quickly. Jake went for a song that took an age to write and essentially comprised three different songs in one after a lot of seemingly aimless playing. Bob, meanwhile, said that while his ideas always come at the most inconvenient times, he usually writes very quickly – has an idea, writes the song, plays it and it’s done. However, he recently experienced a songwriting drought, and performed Lucky One, the piece that signified the end of that drought. Matt too said he usually writes quickly, but chose to perform a song that did take him a while to write. Goodbye was quite hate-filled, and very different to many of his other songs. He actually reminded me of Frank Turner in terms of the sentiment behind the song and the delivery, which is not an analogy I would normally draw.

The covers round came next, with the singers naming their top three heroes. Perhaps not surprisingly, Jake’s were Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Neil Young, and he went for Dylan’s Working Man’s Blues.

Bob cited his three top influences as Thom Yorke, Ryan Adams and dubiously Rage Against The Machine. He opted for a cover of Ryan Adams’s Please Do Not Let Me Go. Matt, meanwhile, included InMe (whose Gazz Marlow was in the audience) alongside Queen and Linkin Park, and opted for a cover of his friend Dave McPherson’s music.

Finally the trio were asked to perform a song inspired by obscure or bizarre circumstances. Jake went for a song about people being depressed, inspired by being at The Farm with Alfie during a week when the clouds came over. Bob’s song was written about royalty and the Royal Family, and he revealed he’d previously drawn inspiration from the film The Social Network. Matt, meanwhile, performed Post Me To The Fringe, inspired by a friend who posted himself to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2010.

You are always guaranteed variety and entertainment at a Fractured Toast night, and many good tunes, too.

Written by Brighton Bad Bunny

January 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Brighton musical review of the year

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Hope Rudd

Hope Rudd singing at the Fountain Head open mic night, run every Monday by Matt Bonner.

Since I moved to Brighton six months ago I have lived and breathed the live, largely acoustic music scene. And I’ve loved every minute. I’ve met many talented musicians and been privileged enough to attend lots of fantastic events organised by people with a real passion for a good tune. I began blogging about music out of love for the sounds I was hearing and wanted to share it with other music fans because I thought these musicians deserved to be heard. I’ve written a piece for the January issue of the Kemptown Rag about my highlights of the Brighton music scene in 2011, and thought I’d post an edited version here. These are my musical highlights of 2011, and who I think you should listen out for in 2012.


Martin Rossiter

Martin Rossiter's long awaited comeback was a highlight of 2011.

Among my favourite gigs was Martin Rossiter‘s return at the Unitarian Church in May and the Brighton Ballroom in July. Martin was one of my musical heroes when I was growing up and like many fans from the Gene days I was excited at the prospect of his solo shows. Accompanied by Robin Coward on piano and at the July gig supported by the rocking Sweet Sweet Lies, this was an intimate and emotion-wrenching experience and a sign of great things to look forward to, with a new album promised early in 2012.

I’ve also enjoyed the monthly gigs organised by music promoter Mark Stack, who hosts the monthly, free Live Music Zooberon every third Friday of the month at the Seven Stars on Ship Street, promoting the best of local acts. Here I’ve discovered acts such as The Lanes, Dave Blackwell and Simone Villiers – an eclectic mix.

The Long Goodbye

The Long Goodbye at an Overhead Wires' night.

Organiser of many monthly music nights, Overhead Wires record label (aka Rich and George) plough their heart into putting on live events. They host nights at various pubs, and are responsible for the most original night I’ve encountered, Fractured Toast, a monthly storyteller’s circle where songwriters reveal the stories behind their songs and musical careers. Singers including Chuck SJ Hay, Chris Alex Thom and Alfie Bernardi from The Long Goodbye have all braved the stage to talk about their music – something musicians aren’t always comfortable with! Overhead Wires also host a range of themed nights where you can catch the cream of local talent.

Bands and solo performers

Will Sidewinder Open Mic

Will, one of the regular performers at the Sidewinder Open Mic nights.

I’ve encountered so many amazing bands that it’s impossible to pick just one favourite. A particular favourite is Paul Diello and Friends – frontman Paul has one of the most beautiful male voices I have ever heard, accompanied by his talented band. Accordion Needed, a quirky female trio, also captured my ears, while the award-winning Fran Classic spliced beatboxing with good tunes.

I’ve also enjoyed the work of The Denizens, a trio who throw some mandolin into the mix for a unique Spanish-country sound, and the rocking Short Horns. Then there’s Call Me Jolene, another Martin Rossiter project, with the sublime Sophie Pointer on vocals. This is one of the bands that I hope to see and hear a lot more of in the months to come.

In terms of solo performers there are so many out there plying their trade just waiting for your ears to discover them. As perviously mentioned, Dave Blackwell has become a particular favourite, along with the talented Ian Mark Burzio and his friend Matt Bonner, and the highly talented Rough Citizen, all producing individual and exciting new sounds. Then there’s the girls, Chuck SJ Hay being one of the most original I have seen, writing catchy, moving, no-nonsense songs and now running her own music nights at The White Rabbit. I’ve also enjoyed the work of Hope Rudd, Kate Williams and Verity Sessions among others.

Open mic

Rough CItizen

Rough Citizen performing in Hove.

Whether you’re just starting out or are an established artist, open mic nights around Brighton are always welcoming. I’ve become a regular fixture at the Sidewinder‘s Tuesday nights, hosted by Kemptown musician Robin, and have discovered great singers such as Hope Rudd – a passionate performer with a protest style – there; along with regulars who just enjoy the chance to play their songs in public. It’s always fun and professionally run, giving everyone an equal chance to play their songs out, no matter how experienced they are.


Ali-Cats, where you'll catch some good music,


Picking my favourite event was again no easy task, but I will always hold a special place in my heart for Ali-Cats Acoustic Club. These nights take place at the once legendary but now slightly forgotten Ali-Cats club, beneath The Varisty. Here you’ll hear six hand-selected acts playing a mixture of their own songs and covers, all in a very distinctive atmosphere. The club is a little chilly, a little damp, fragranced with incense and scented candles, and oozing charm. Ali-Cats is taking a break for January but will return with a new, possibly weekly format in the new year.

Favourite act


yourgardenday - quite the performer.

To name one stand-out act is near impossible. Chuck SJ Hay and Hope Rudd are my joint favourite female artists. But looking forward as well as back, my favourite act of 2011 and the one to watch for 2012 is yourgardenday, a unique piano and vocal based act with a distinct, moving sound that has been knocking around Brighton for several years but will, with any luck, shine in 2012.

So if you make one resolution this year, be sure that it’s to go out and enjoy some live music in Brighton. Whatever your taste, you’re sure to find something that makes your feet tap and raises a smile.

My full music review of the year is available in the Kemptown Rag, which is available in many pubs across Kemptown from early January.

Happy 2012, and thanks for reading.

Live Music Review: A Christmas Zooberon

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Dave Blackwell Zooberon

Dave Blackwell - one of the major stars of the Zooberon.

The last Live Music Zooberon of 2011 was a festive affair in a packed Seven Stars pub, undoubtedly the busiest Zooberon I have seen to date with Christmas revellers in for a musical treat – and thankfully not a Christmas song to be heard.

Up first was one of the stars of the Zooberon, Dave Blackwell. Dave is one of my favourite musical discoveries of the past year, with a charming country-folk sound and a great talent for putting his own interpretation on well-known songs, as well as a great ability for song writing.

He began with his trademark cover, Johnny Cash’s False Imprisonment, a nicely relaxed start to the evening which instantly started to draw the crowd’s attention. End of the Road, one of his own songs I’m particularly fond of, was up next before another cover of I Need A Dollar – delivered in Dave’s own style this is a far sweeter version than the original.

Dave showed off his talents as both songwriter and musician with a trio of his own songs, one I hadn’t heard before that was slow with a downbeat rhythm, followed by what has become known as his ‘angry song’, something a lot more energetic. He then tried out a new song, which was very folky and beautiful, before finishing off with a lovely cover of Ain’t No Sunshine, an old favourite.

Second act of the night was my absolute favourite find of the year, yourgardenday. Musical maestro Robin began with my most-loved song, They Put Something In The Music, a hypnotic number about the addictiveness of music as if it had been laced with something. As Zooberon host Mark Stack noted, this is a real earworm of a song, which gets into your head and won’t leave.


yourgardenday sang a short, sweet set.

yourgardenday continued with the thoughtful I Have, Have I? and the quirky and encouraging Pick Up Your Socks, the first YGD song I ever heard, and one which is pact with positivity. This was a rather short set, and the no so often heard Millionaire #1 was followed by the lovely Lover, Do You Mind? There’s a sense of seeking something through most YGD songs and if you’re seeking good music, at the Zooberon you’re sure to find it. Not the longest nor best set I’ve heard from yourgardenday, but enjoyable none the less.

By now the pub was packed, and drinkers were in for a treat with the rather fabulous third act, Out Side Room. I’d heard good things about these boys and they were not a disappointment. They stormed through an 10-song set that had some clear Chilli Pepper and Kings of Leon influences.

Out Side Room had brought some fans with them and no sooner had they kicked off their first song, Untouchable, than then the front of the pub became a dance floor. Untouchable was a rocking and fast number with some super guitar solos.

Out Side Room Zooberon

Out Side Room were a pleasant discovery.

In general the whole Out Side Room set was pumping and hard; I loved their third song, In Harm’s Way, which had some nice lyrics to accompany the thumping beat. Brighton Pier, their fourth song, was a quirky, fun little number with a nice, upbeat rhythm and a keyboard solo at the end, another song that got people up and dancing.

When I saw the name ‘Poison’ on the set list I was slightly concerned we’d be in for an Alice Cooper cover, but fortunately this was nothing of the sort, a slower, more pop friendly piece. Other highlights of the Out Side Room set included Rattlesnakes, an energetic crowd pleaser that got some screams of joy and more dancers, and Envy Avenue, a new song they had only practised a couple of times, which sounded great with some clear Strokes influence.

Wake Up, their final song, was a heart-pumping tune that I could feel deep inside. It’s out on iTunes in February and I for one will be buying a copy. Out Side Room are an enigmatic bunch and a band I’m glad to have come across.

The Lanes Zooberon

The Lanes have made the Zooberon their own, and rocked the Seven Stars with style.

Now it was time for the headline act of the night, a Brighton group who have really made the Zooberon their own – it could only be The Lanes.

Full of energy and charm as you would expect, The Lanes kicked off with Horror Show, an ear-blasting number that made it clear they love their showmanship – we were in for a great set.

From the offset they were everywhere, rocking the Seven Stars and shaking you to your soul with the audience clearly enjoying themselves (particularly Rich and George from Overhead Wires, who were rocking it hard in front of the sound desk!)

Ever After, The Lanes’ third song, had something of an Iron Maiden start and turned into a loud and proud number, and like all of their set it was hugely energetic. Phoenix features a notable drum solo and is a rocktastic crowd pleaser, while during Dirty Synth some of the band were down amidst the crowd rocking with them – The Lanes put on one of the most impressive shows I’ve seen in Brighton.

They were a fitting ending to the final Zooberon of the year, and gave us all something to look forward to in 2012. Big thumbs up must go to Mark Stack, who works tirelessly to bring music to the people of Brighton, all the musicians who have made the Zooberon so special, the Seven Stars for hosting the evening and Robin on sound for making sure everything is aurally excellent.